About the Other Intelligence Leadership Opening

Yes, the news is abuzz with leadership turnover in the Intelligence Community. Wait – not that news about outgoing DNI Dan Coats, the important news: it’s time for applications to the prestigious AFCEA International Intelligence Committee, the premier outside body of experts and insiders, government officials and business/academic leaders, who oversee the intelligence-related activities of the 32,000+ member organization.

Private-sector applicants for four-year terms can apply at this link. (Hurry! You have only a week till the deadline, midnight August 5, 2019.)  You can do the application in under an hour, not burdensome – no college transcripts 🙂

Where else in DC can you engage with Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, hackathons on national security, and the leaders of the national-security community? My own tenure on the Committee has been fantastically fun and enlightening – and I hope helpful to AFCEA and the government agencies we advise and support. When I joined, our Committee’s Chair was the IC legend Maureen “Mo” Baginski, career NSA and FBI senior leader; and I’ve been honored to serve as vice-chair to her two successors in that seat, former DIA Director VADM Jake Jacoby, and current chair former head of Army Intelligence LTG Bob Noonan. Leaders from the world’s biggest defense/intelligence contractors are members, as well as successful startup leaders in the nat-sec space. We benefit from active emeritus members who continue to participate like CIA’s legendary Charlie Allen and the world’s preeminent scholar of intelligence Mark “Jeopardy Champion” Lowenthal.

AFCEA logo web

You must have an active TS/SCI clearance, as many of our activities and conferences are classified. And the application weighs heavily on your career track record. We especially encourage applicants diverse in origin, gender, race, background, skills, and outlook —to reflect the nation as a whole and the diversity of the intelligence mission itself, and to break chains of old thinking and get crackling new ideas on tomorrow’s most significant topics.  

In considering applicants during the selection process, these are the primary precepts we keep in mind when we consider applicants:
(1) Would the candidate further Committee efforts to build bridges between industry and the government/military? And have the contacts to do so?
(2) Would the candidate enhance AFCEA’s reputation with the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense?
(3) Would the candidate likely be someone willing to actively engage with the Committee and help advance its goals?
(4) Would the candidate further thought leadership and innovation within AFCEA, to include involvement with other AFCEA Committee efforts?

A key element in the Committee’s success is close ties with the Intelligence Community’s and the military services’ intelligence and cybersecurity organizations, the ability to reach into those organizations with current contacts and the relationships permitting direct interface with leadership.  These are key to high-content industry days, quiet advisory engagement at the government’s request, speakers for meetings and the regular engagements that keep AFCEA Intelligence in the fore in their planning.  We have Committee members who have been in the forefront of these efforts who are rotating off the Committee or have rotated off in recent years, and we encourage recently retired senior civilian leaders and military members as well to apply.

When I was elected not long after leaving government service and going back to the tech industry, I wrote here about the Committee’s history and prominence, and that I was “honored to be elected” to this “prestigious collection of some of the smartest minds in that field.” I was tempted to respond then with William F. Buckley’s great line from his quixotic and unsuccessful Mayoral campaign in New York City in 1965, when he was asked what his first act would be if elected: “Demand a recount!”

Once again, here’s that link to the application site. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

Your choice, Dataviz as event or book

A friend wrote asking if I could make it to an event happening this week near DC. I can’t make it, but fortunately he also mentioned as consolation that he has a cool new book on the cusp of release – and I’ve now ordered my copy.

The Friend: legendary visualization and HCI guru Ben Shneiderman (Wikipedia entry). Ben is a computer-science professor at the University of Maryland and the founder of its well-known Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory (HCIL), as well as an ACM Fellow and AAAS Fellow.  He has done government a million favors over the years, consulting for agencies, including his recent work on the Recovery.gov site to help that platform of data – from hundreds of thousands of sources – organize, host, and visualize the data for millions of visitors.  I first got to know Ben through his support for better intelligence analysis – he helped invent a longtime intelligence analytics tool, Spotfire (see his article “Dynamic queries, starfield displays, and the path to Spotfire“).  Ben’s also well-known for his award-winning 2002 book Leonardo’s Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies, which I enjoyed and still think about when brainstorming new techie toys.

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Net-clever personal PSYOP targeting

In a way I’ve been studying Information Operations (info-ops, or IO) and Psychological Operations (PSYOP) all my life. We all have – particularly if you grew up in the marketing-saturated post-World War II United States. But I also started reading intently about those practices when I first worked at the Cold War Pentagon in the mid-1980s.

Those two terms have specific meanings in a military and international-relations context. The Pentagon’s official doctrinal definitions can be found in Joint Publication 3-13, “Information Operations” (updated in 2006) and in Joint Pub 3-53 “Doctrine for Joint Psychological Operations” (dating back to 2003). They make plain that PSYOP is one of “five core IO capabilities: electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, operations security, and military deception.”  As the latter manual states, “The overall function of PSYOP is to cause selected foreign audiences to take actions favorable to the objectives of the United States and its allies or coalition partners” (page xii).

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Enabling Eureka via Citeability

The story of Archimedes resonates with everyone, because we all regularly feel that rush of excitement that he famously felt when discovering the principle of water displacement: “Eureka!” he shouted, “I have found it!”

Whether it’s car keys or the perfect birthday present for a loved one, we know that feeling. But how often do you feel like shouting “Eureka” when you’re surfing the web looking for a particular piece of government information?

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Slate of the Union Day

Today is “Slate of the Union” day, when the two most charismatic individuals in recent American history go on stage and attempt to reclaim mantles as innovators. I’ll leave aside the fellow with lower poll numbers for now (President Obama). More eyes in the tech world will be watching as Steve Jobs makes his newest product announcement, the Apple tablet/Tabloid/iSlate thing iPad (it’s official).

Back in the late 1980s I worked for the legendary “Mayor of Silicon Valley” Tom McEnery (he was actually the mayor of San Jose), and we did many joint projects with Apple, particularly with CEO John Sculley, a great guy.

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To fix intelligence analysis you have to decide what’s broken

“More and more, Xmas Day failure looks to be wheat v. chaff issue, not info sharing issue.” – Marc Ambinder, politics editor for The Atlantic, on Twitter last night.

Marc Ambinder, a casual friend and solid reporter, has boiled down two likely avenues of intelligence “failure” relevant to the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his attempted Christmas Day bombing on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.  In his telling, they’re apparently binary – one is true, not the other, at least for this case.

The two areas were originally signalled by President Obama in his remarks on Tuesday, when he discussed the preliminary findings of “a review of our terrorist watch list system …  so we can find out what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks.” 

Let’s examine these two areas of failure briefly – and what can and should be done to address them.

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Education for Information Security in a Connected World

Much of what I work on involves technologies which address information security and cyber security. So I have to ask, Who is training our next generation of technologists? And are those educators doing enough to focus on the dynamically changing demands of Information Security?

Those fundamental questions took me to Chicago recently, to take part in a roundtable discussion sponsored by DeVry University, “The Demand for Information Security in a Connected World.”

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